My friend needed a laptop replacement. He also wanted a nano because it was adorable. One thing lead to another and now I'm a father of 3! Err, wait... oh yeah the computer.
So he was looking for something extra portable to complete the dainty feel of the nano.
His needs were:
i5 skylake (doesn't care about overclocking)
Aftermarket heatsink because of the tiny enclosure
wifi-enabled, reliable motherboard
8 GB of RAM
SSD (Not a primary computer, just to serve as back up)
Nano, because, "I just wanted it. It's cute and small". Not for blistering speeds at 1440p/4k. Just... because.
The smallest case with a handle. It was a tough call between the silver and the black, but the silver won out.
500+W PSU. Because.. well, nano..
These were the parts I told him to pick based off what he needed.
The i5 6500 is an excellent performer at the $200 mark and will provide great power for a good length of time. 3GHz or higher on any quad core i5 from ivy bridge to present will provide all the power he needs paired with any gaming video card at this time. I begged him to go unlocked because he was buying a Nano anyways. Didn't take > : [
L9i: This was a bit of an afterthought, but looking at some reviews of how hot the skylakes run on the stock heat sinks, I was a bit concerned with the tiny enclosure that the TU100's were, so I opted for the best low-profile air solution available. Unfortunately the CPU cooler I wanted, the C7, was not priced so I couldn't wait on this project and got the L9i. This is a fabulous heat sink and came with sooo many bits and pieces; this isn't just a heat sink, it's a whole experience boxed in as a kit. You get everything you need bundled with it. I was impressed at the craftmanship. The fans are so ugly online, but in person, it really doesn't look too bad! I kinda dig the Noctua colors with the brushed aluminum!
We chose the GA-H170N-Wifi because we just needed a reliable board at a decent price. We went with this board because of our experience with GA-Z97N-Wifi, which was outstanding thus far, and got this. The VRMs are different than the last board, but overall we didn't have many issues with fitting everything.
The RAM. Only needed 8GB and I mean come on, it's effing DDR4!! Awesome. Looks great and works with motherboard on first boot.
Samsung 850 EVO 500GB. He didn't need much storage and I really wanted to see what the big deal about these was knowing that they're high quality. I have read that M.2 SSDs (not just these) heat up quickly, which was a little late because we ordered the damn thing. Oh well I warned him when we put it together and that he should note the warranty because he may need to remember it.
This video card is #1 reason why we made this computer. It looks great and tiny and cute, has an XFX sticker on fan (or is an XFX fan, I don't know?) and is completely overkill. I am making sure he gets at least 1 440p IPS freesync monitor, but that will wait a bit until we can scrape together some more money.
LOVE THIS CASE. It looks so classy, has a sturdy handle, and made of aluminum. Fairly customizable. If you don't like something in a spot, just unscrew it. There were only a couple of issues with this case, but the end-product was worth it.
This power supply was unnecessary but we already had spent like $1300, so we went the extra mile and got the largest great quality one we could find. Came with an ATX bracket in case you wanted to stick this puppy in a case that supports only ATX form factor PSUs.
Extra Noctua fan because even though Silverstone made a quality fan, we were OCD about matching fans. Does Noctua make PSU fans? :)
After unwrapping and taking all the pieces out, oooing and ahhing and prepping the floor, we started with getting the CPU, mobo, heat sink, RAM set up. No hitches. The manual didn't state where single channel mode for RAM was, so I went with the closest slot. So maybe one hitch.
We then prepped the case by swapping the lian-li fan with the noctua fan I bought him. This was interesting because without looking at the case manual, I was curious as to how the fan came off when I noticed the screws facing in were short screws meant to hold the fan grill in place. Hmmm. Weird. Then it dawned on me that you just slid the fan up and pulled out. Awesome! Now to get the Noctua fan set up. This fan came in a box with splitters and screws and all sorts of stuff. Box opening was an experience. So I saw the rubber posts that are used for sound dampening. Took a bit of force pulling them through the holes in the fan. Then I realized that, hey!.. these are also made to slide down and up when finished with prep. May become a Noctua fan boy (dammit another pun to put on pcpp about fans).
We had any cables the case/fan came with either route through the top or down at the bottom. I had my friend slide the fan in the case with cable going up and kept it with the front panel cables. Also the USB 3.0 header and sound cable was routed down below.
Fitting the motherboard into the case was a chore because the IO panel was too padded. We checked this with and without the IO panel and confirmed that Gigabyte gave us a high-profile(?) IO panel. Thankfully the board is GIGABYTE Ultra Durable ™ or we'd be biting our fingers. A massive headache was the front panel cables. Took forever to set up and unfortunately the board nor the case came with a thingy. It wakes me up in cold sweats just thinking about it.
The M.2 i had suggested to him for a cable cutting measure. He didn't recognize it when he looked at it and was like, "what is this thing". It blew his mind that we didn't need the cables like a 2.5" SSD normally needs. Was easy as pushing a coin into a slot. Don't put it in at an angle (like 30degrees or less should be ok). It gently goes in at a tight angle then you just push down against mobo. The standoff and screw attached to the mobo comes off but are incredibly tiny. Bigger than glasses screws, but still really small.
There is a piece next to the back PCI brackets that pops off if you loosen a screw or two. Otherwise impossible to attach the video card haha. My friend was on hydrocodone for his wisdom teeth so he was scratching his head for a few min then I asked to give a shot and I immediately looked at the back and he caught my gaze and it dawned on him. Silly guy.
After all of that the cables were easy to push around. We attached the mobo speaker, fired it up, then got a single beep at bios. Yay!
Noise: This thing is inaudible beyond 4 or 5 inches and the fans are pushing the air quite well. Even the video card which is probably because we were just trying to get bios confirmed. It did had it's fan spinning though. The PSU fan doesn't spin until it hits a certain threshold. This thing is so quiet I was freaking out about whether something was broke or not!
Future would entail us getting the bottom of the case modified as a bottom intake for a low-profile fan to help the video card out.
NOTE: One thing to note (as stated above), M.2 cards can get hot and without adequate airflow, if it heats up you'll go from blazing fast SSD speeds, to IDE speeds (or something, I don't know xD). This case has some airflow, but I warned him the tight space may not be a a good spot for it so we should look into ways to cool the dang thing.